The Sherwood Forest Nightjar Project

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Winter blues

Posted by oliver.padget@linacre.ox.ac.uk on December 28, 2013 at 3:00 PM

It has been four months since we were out in the forest each night on the lookout for nightjars, and winter is starting to drag! However, it is an important time to gather ideas, crunch some numbers and plan the coming field season. We are currently planning more work with GPS tags and writing up our results from the pilot study that was such a success last year - with eight out of 11 of our tag deployments resulting in beautiful, beautiful data! Of course, we can only do better in the coming year with the chance to deploy tags earlier and better target individuals which are most likely to be representative of the whole population. The possibility of following these brilliant birds to their over-wintering destination all the way in sub-Saharan Africa seemed like such a long way off until recently... but watch this space.

2013 has proved an interesting year for people working on nightjars, with the publication of the first geolocator-tracking nightjar study by Cresswell and Edwards (2013) and with publications on patch selection from eastern Europe by Stasiak et al. (2013) pushing our understanding of this species further! The next step has to be a mechanistic understanding of the factors influencing the types of habitat which nightjars will disperse to. How will they expand to novel sites or return to sites at which they have become extinct? New GPS trackers mean that it is a very exciting time to be studying tricky nocturnal birds!

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